Miscellany № 79: jè?

Always nice to ease oneself back into the swing of things with a new mark of punctuation, don’t you think? I was pleased to come across the following announcement a little while ago:

On May 27, at the international design conference TYPO Berlin two new typefaces will be launched that are designed as part of the TilburgsAns project. Both typefaces – TilburgsAnsText and TilburgsAnsIcons – contain a new punctuation mark. This mark is based on the Tilburg dialect word ‘jè’ (which sounds more or less as ‘yeah’) that is used as a confirmation but often expresses some doubt or mild irony. The jè-mark bridges the gap between the exclamation point and the question mark.

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№ ⸮ ‽ ℔ ⁊ ⸿  — or, a cavalcade of characters

At the heart of Shady Characters’ recent redesign are the text and display typefaces of Satyr and Faunus, both designed by Sindre Bremnes of Norway’s Monokrom type studio. Shady Characters, of course, is all about unusual marks of punctuation, and I was glad to see that both typefaces came complete with a handy selection of special characters. Even so, there were a few marks missing: the interrobang for one; the numero symbol I use in many post titles for another. As I chatted to Frode Helland of Monokrom about the minutiae of web fonts, though, he suggested that he and Sindre might be able to add some new characters to help Shady Characters live up to its name.

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Miscellany № 67: irony’s restoration

We first met the Right Reverend John Wilkins FRS, renaissance man of the Restoration, back in 2011. A founding member of the Royal Society, brother in law to Oliver Cromwell and mad scientist extraordinaire, Wilkins was one of the seventeenth century’s most ardent devotees of what are now called conlangs, or constructed languages, and he expended a considerable amount of time and effort on his magnum opus on the subject, An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language.1 His book was published to acclaim in scholarly circles though it very nearly never made it to print at all, as Wilkins himself explained in his introduction:

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Shady Characters at the BBC: punctuation that failed to make its mark

I had the pleasure, recently, of writing another article for BBC Culture. It’s called “Punctuation that failed to make its mark” and it’s a sort of Shady Characters greatest hits, a compilation of a few of my favourite marks that tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to achieve widespread acceptance. There’s Martin K. Speckter’s evergreen interrobang, or ‘‽’, intended to punctuate an excited or rhetorical question; Bas Jacob’s clever but ill-fated ironiteken, or irony mark, as shown above; and the excellent quasiquote (), or paraphrasing mark, first sent in to Shady Characters back in 2014 by the late Ned Brooks.

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Miscellany № 61: verbal irony seeks meaningful relationship. No, really.

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Well, hello there.

You all know the handsome fellow that adorns the cover of this book, don’t you? This is the ironieteken, the brainchild of type designer Bas Jacobs, and it is used to terminate an ironic statement.[?] Specifically, it is intended to punctuate verbal irony, where a speaker or writer says one thing but means another. It is, to my mind, the most visually convincing irony mark to date — but for the purposes of today’s short post, it is merely one of the many suitors who have tried and failed to win irony’s hand in marriage.

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